Good Riddance: South Street Music Venue “Legendary” Dobbs Closes

With the North Star Bar's recent closure, that's two music venues gone in just two weeks.

Image from Google Street View

Image from Google Street View

On Monday morning, South Street music venue The Legendary Dobbs announced on Facebook (where else?) that it was no more:

The Legendary Dobbs is unfortunately closed and all future events are canceled, due to circumstances beyond our control. If you have purchased a ticket on line, your purchase will be refunded. If you are a promoter and have paid a deposit to hold a date, your deposit will be refunded. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Our condolences go out to the staff as well as all of the bands who now have to look for other homes for their gigs, but let’s be honest: Dobbs — in its most recent reincarnation — was a lousy place to see live music.

But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the heyday of 304 South Street, bands like Nirvana, Soul Asylum, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Green Day, the Indigo Girls and the Offspring came through, playing before-they-were-world-famous gigs at a place then known as J.C. Dobbs.

When the original Dobbs opened way back in 1975, it opened with what was an unusual idea for bars at that time: Presenting only original music.

Here’s what former City Paper music editor Margit Detweiler had to say upon the club’s 20th anniversary celebration in 1995:

In a city where clubs come and go, Dobbs has outlasted and outplayed them all. Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year as a rock venue, Dobbs is one of the only Philadelphia clubs that has always and only presented original music. It doesn’t seem like an unusual concept, but when the nightclub/ bar opened in June 1975 it was a new idea. Until then, coffeehouses had been the only small venues to see original bands.

One year later, J.C. Dobbs closed. Then the club reopened under new ownership as the Pontiac Bar & Grill. But that never really caught on, so the original owners of J.C. Dobbs decided to reopen J.C. Dobbs as J.C. Dobbs. Alas, that experiment failed, and then in 2010, someone else decided to re-re-reopen the club and call it the Legendary Dobbs, their inclusion of “legendary” in the name sealing the venue’s fate forever. We’re just surprised that it took so long for Dobbs to do itself in once again.

With music venue the North Star Bar closing its doors on Poplar Street less than two weeks ago, some are going to wonder if this means doom and gloom for the music business in Philadelphia. (And Philadelphia’s City Council is actually holding a hearing on Tuesday to investigate the state of Philadelphia’s music industry.) But the fact is that both of these venues were well past their prime, and most of us had already forgotten about them. Now the rest of you can, too.

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